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Vegetable milk: which one to buy, how much they cost, how to make them at home
Vegetable milk: which one to buy, how much they cost, how to make them at home

Of milk there is only one! Or at least, there was only one. And this "only" was milk of animal origin. Cow, goat, sheep or donkey, even human, but always of animal origin.

While the "real" cow's milk now seems a faded memory, we, modern metropolitan consumers mainly vegan, have adapted the term "milk" to every whitish drink of vegetable origin, moving away from our healthy and controlled breakfasts the now obsolete, fatty and tasteless (to the detractors) cow's milk.

It started with soya milk which has appeared on the shelves of super - and unfortunately also in the flavors of ice cream, to arrive at a variety that today includes milks made from coconut, oats, soy, rice and even peas (of which, frankly, we did not feel the lack, as stated by Dina Cheney, author of the book “The new milks” and considered a luminary in the “vegetable milks” sector).

In 2017 "Muufree" should arrive on the market, the first milk that starts from the DNA of the cow but which contains only one hundred percent vegetable fats (is it or is it not Cow - free?) While shortly, from New Zealand, the A2 "milk", enriched with A1 and A2 proteins.


Soy milk covers about 50% of the alternative milk supply, closely followed by rice milk. The other types, coconut, oat, almond are less common for now.


legumes and cereals
legumes and cereals

If we take a look at the list of ingredients, we realize that the excipients, that is the ingredients present in addition to the main one, differ a lot.

That is, we will have milks that contain plain water, in addition to the main ingredient, while in other cases the list gets longer (stabilizers, various flavors, oils, vitamins, emulsifiers, calcium, sugar and salt).


It often changes also for the price: in fact, while remaining in the same type of drink, the price can vary from about 1.30 euros per liter up to 3.50, depending on the points of sale.

In particular, considering soy milk (toh, who's there) a recent market survey considered three stores of different sizes (Bennet Hypermarket, Carrefour Supermarket and a small Coop store) and found significant price differences.


soya milk
soya milk

The cheapest milk at Bennet is in fact the Vivi Sì by Bennet with a price of € 1.79 / liter, while the most expensive is the Valsoia Soyadrink Light at a price of almost € 3 / liter.

At Carrefour, however, the most expensive milk is Alpro Soya Original (€ 2.39 / liter) while the cheapest is Carrefour Bio Drink Soy (€ 1.89 / liter).

Finally, at Coop, the most expensive is Granarolo, at a price of € 2.29 per liter, while the cheapest is the brand of the store, Bene Sì Coop, with a price of € 1.49 / liter.

Rice milks, on the other hand, do not always have the distributor's brand and, as far as the remaining milks are concerned, there is no history: in general, the points of sale even offer only one brand for each, on average more expensive than their rice cousins. and soy, as happens for example for Coop oat milk (maximum price € 3.50 / liter) or almond milk at the Carrefour store (maximum price € 3.39 / liter).

In short, a flood of alternative milks, the characteristics of which are often unknown to us. So how to clarify all these "milks" and their characteristics?

In fact, if we all knew on average the basic notions for cow's milk, such as that it contains calcium, iron and the proteins that would be necessary to feed a calf, we know little about vegetable milks, and we often stop at some minimal information, such as that the coconut milk has a lot of fat while almond milk is high in protein. Stop.

So let's try to untangle ourselves in the jungle of vegetable milks, briefly examining the characteristics of each of them.


almond milk and cereals
almond milk and cereals

The best known, the oldest, the one we are most familiar with. Protein, but also quite rich in unsaturated fats, the "good" fats, as well as essential minerals such as potassium and calcium, as well as vitamins.

A vegetable milk that, for the taste of sweet almonds, almost gives us the impression of eating a dessert. And without too many feelings of guilt (about 65 calories for a pound, compared to about 40 for cow's milk)! Really, good milk!


coconut milk
coconut milk

Refreshing and thirst-quenching, it is a milk to be used in moderation: it can contain from 150 to 200 calories per hectogram, a percentage that varies in relation to the water added during processing but, in any case, a real bomb compared to other "milks".

Obtained by squeezing the pulp of the coconut, it is not to be confused with coconut water, which is the transparent liquid contained within.

In addition to its important caloric intake, it is also rich in saturated fats, in particular lauric acid which, despite being a saturated fat, helps to raise the levels of "good" cholesterol. Widely used in the kitchen to flavor sweet or savory dishes.


soya milk
soya milk

The first, the forerunner, the pioneer in the face of which many of us have twisted (and continue to do so) their noses. Obtained from soy beans, it is low in fat and cholesterol. The presence of proteins of groups A, B and E is very valid, making it similar, from a protein point of view, to cow's milk.

Soy proteins act as scavengers of the arteries by lowering the level of "bad" cholesterol but not the good one. For women, then, an added advantage: it seems - even if the studies are not yet completely verified - that soy isoflavones help during menopausal disorders.

The caloric intake is low, just over 30 calories per hectogram of drink. On the other hand, the taste is, so to speak, enough to reflect: additives, to me!


rice milk
rice milk

Party on the sly is now taking off like all its peers, also thanks to the sugary taste. It is in fact rich in simple sugars but with a modest protein intake and components of cow's milk such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D are completely absent.

The caloric intake is modest (not even 50 heats per hectogram). Negative note: it is almost always added with oils, usually sunflower oils. Sin. But it is good and sweet.


Avena's milk
Avena's milk

With the power to instantly transport us to the green English countryside in front of a bowl of porridge, oat milk is low in fat and low in calories (not even 50 per pound of product).

It is rich in complex carbohydrates, which make it an ideal food for diets as it increases the feeling of satiety. It is effective in reducing LDL cholesterol, thanks to the presence of fiber.

It will become an integral and omnipresent part of my breakfast from tomorrow: better to be safe than sorry!


homemade plant milk
homemade plant milk

Oh yes, because there is also this alternative, which is spreading rapidly among gourmets and vegans (now practically the same thing).

Making these drinks at home isn't difficult, and recipes abound in cooking blogs and magazines. In this sense, the book Veg Cheeses by Grazia Cacciola (Sonda, 224 p. € 19:90) is very useful.

Because getting a handful of oats or rice is certainly easier than getting a cow.

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